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Ty Evind

Who are the Best Candidates for Hypnosis? An Explanation of Hypnotic Susceptibility

The quick answer is that around 10% to 15% of the population are the best candidates for hypnosis. In order to understand who these people are, I'll go into the traits associated with hypnotic susceptibility.

The mysticism surrounding hypnosis has captured human imagination for centuries. Since the days of Anton Mesmer’s 18th century Parisian salons, that mystique has only grown, fueled by hypnosis’ portrayal in popular media and entertainment. However, behind the cultural mythology lies a genuine psychological phenomenon that has helped countless individuals make meaningful changes in their lives.

While hypnosis can benefit many people in areas like stress reduction, pain management, habit control, and personal development, some individuals make for better hypnotic subjects than others. As any experienced hypnotist will tell you, hypnotic susceptibility varies greatly across the population. So who exactly tends to be the most hypnotizable? Understanding the key traits and attributes of a good candidate for hypnosis can optimize the hypnotherapy experience.

Table of Contents

  1. Defining Hypnotic Susceptibility

  2. Key Traits of a Good Candidate

  3. Assessing Hypnotic Susceptibility

  4. Maximizing Hypnotic Response

  5. Overcoming Common Barriers

  6. Who Can Benefit from Hypnosis?

  7. Key Takeaways: Best Candidates for Hypnosis

Defining Hypnotic Susceptibility

Defining Hypnotic Susceptibility

Before exploring the signs of an ideal candidate, it helps to understand hypnotic susceptibility itself. What exactly makes someone easier or more difficult to hypnotize? While a complex mix of physiological, psychological and contextual factors are at play, researchers have identified some consistent determinants:


Absorption refers to one’s ability to become fully engaged and immersed in sensory or imaginative experiences. Good hypnotic candidates tend to have high levels of absorptive capacity based on standardized scales psychologists use to measure it. They can readily block out external stimuli to focus intently on inner experiences conjured through visualization, memory, and fantasy.


Dissociation describes the ability to compartmentalize and detach aspects of one’s identity or perception from conscious awareness. Hypnotizable subjects exhibit greater dissociative tendencies and can more easily divide their consciousness to follow the hypnotist’s suggestions.

Openness to Experience

Openness to new experiences and ideas correlates strongly with how easily someone can enter a hypnotic trance. More open personalities are naturally curious, imaginative, and tolerant of ambiguity. This allows them to feel comfortable letting go of certain doubts and perceptions to explore the altered state of hypnosis.

Attitudes and Expectations

An individual’s attitudes, assumptions, and motivations related to hypnosis can shape how well they respond. Those with positive expectations, a willingness to relax and comply with instructions, and belief in the technique tend to achieve deeper trance states.

With this foundation laid, what are some more specific signs that indicate someone will be highly responsive to hypnosis?

Key Traits of a Good Candidate for Hypnosis

Key Traits of a Good Candidate for Hypnosis

While hypnotic susceptibility varies on a spectrum across individuals, the most hypnotizable subjects often share the following abilities and characteristics:

Strong Imagination and Creativity

Vivid imagination and creativity increase one’s talent for hypnosis because the process relies heavily on visualizing scenarios and imagery. Good hypnotic subjects can form clear mental representations to embrace the therapist’s suggested experiences and sensations.

Ability to Concentrate and Focus

The capacity to deeply focus attention correlates to hypnotizability. Good candidates can become fully absorbed in the therapist’s voice, block out distractions, and fixate on hypnotic cues and ideas.

Willingness to Relax and Let Go

Trance states require relaxing the conscious, critical mind and surrendering to where the hypnotist leads you. The most responsive subjects embrace this process, temporarily letting go of doubts and perceptions to step into the hypnotist’s suggested reality.

Trusting and Cooperative Attitude

Ideal candidates feel comfortable fully trusting in the hypnotist to guide them into a relaxed, receptive state. They cooperate with instructions instead of resisting. This trusting attitude springs from positive expectations about what hypnosis can achieve for them.

Sensitive Imagination

Vividly imagining all the details of scenes constructed in one’s mind comes more easily to some. Excellent hypnotic subjects respond well to imagery heavy processes like age regression because they can subjectively experience the imagined past or future scenario.

Emotional Openness

The best candidates don’t resist emotional experiences during hypnosis but allow feelings like joy, sadness, fear or laughter to flow freely. They access emotions tied to past events or imagined futures to embrace hypnotic suggestions on a deeper level.

Interest in Hypnosis

Those drawn to exploring hypnosis due to curiosity or prior positive exposure tend to achieve strong results. Eagerness fuels motivation to follow the steps necessary to enter trance states. It also builds positive expectations that enhance responsiveness.

Assessing Hypnotic Susceptibility

Assessing Hypnotic Susceptibility

While the traits above indicate good candidates, hypnotists also use tests to assess an individual’s level of hypnotic susceptibility. Three of the most common methods are:

  • Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale - Uses 12 standardized suggestions for responses like arm rigidity, dream creation, and post-hypnotic amnesia.

  • Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility - Evaluates susceptibly in groups by testing imaginative suggestibility. Subjects self-score their objective and subjective responses.

  • Stanford Hypnotic Clinical Scale - Optimized for clinical settings, focuses on suggestions for analgesic control, dissociation, and post-hypnotic response.

These measurements allow the therapist to customize the approach based on the client’s receptiveness level.

Ideally, assessing susceptibility helps determine if poor hypnotic response stems from low ability or simply resistance and fear interfering with existing capability. Even less responsive patients can be guided to reach satisfying trance levels by addressing their concerns, building motivation, and deepening trust in the practitioner.

Maximizing Hypnotic Response

Maximizing Hypnotic Response

Beyond intrinsic traits, certain contextual factors also impact one’s receptiveness. Hypnotists leverage these to get the best results with each client:

Fostering Trust and Rapport

A strong connection with the hypnotist promotes cooperation crucial for responsiveness. Clients let down their guard more when feeling understood, respected and cared for. Warm, attentive communication style builds the trust to fully engage.

Explaining the Process

Demystifying hypnosis by explaining exactly how it works and what to expect quells fears. Clarity on the steps involved combats inaccurate preconceptions so clients feel in control.

Customizing the Induction

The hypnotic induction should align with the client’s personality and needs. For example, an analytical person may respond better to a conceptual description of how hypnosis affects the mind. Others might connect more with imagery or storytelling approaches.

Motivating With Goals

Reminding clients of their goals for seeking hypnosis reinforces internal motivation to achieve them. This dedication helps them overcome resistance and invest fully in the process.

Relaxed Setting

External distractions impede hypnotic states so optimal settings reduce interference. Dim, calming lighting, comfortable positioning, warm temperatures and minimal noise all promote relaxation.

hypnotic susceptibility

Overcoming Common Barriers

Certain obstacles can interfere with entering trance states regardless of natural susceptibility. However, an experienced hypnotist can guide clients to work through them:

Anxiety and Fear

These common reactions stem from negative hypnosis stereotypes. The hypnotist should reassure that the client remains in control, and provide facts on safety and actual effects. Breathing and mindfulness techniques also relieve anxiety.

Difficulty Relaxing

Reframing hypnosis as focused awareness rather than passive relaxation helps tense clients avoid trying to forcibly make themselves relax. Instead, the aim becomes centered, detached awareness.

Overthinking and Analysis

Left-brained, analytical people may subconsciously evaluate if they are in a trance. Explaining that absorption in thinking and mind chatter hinders hypnosis encourages letting go of hyper-analysis.

Low Motivation

Identifying strong intrinsic motivators related to goals prompts greater commitment. External pressure usually fails, while connecting hypnosis to deeply meaningful personal desires inspires effort.

Who Can Benefit from Hypnosis

Who Can Benefit from Hypnosis?

While hypnotic susceptibility varies widely, most people possess at least a moderate capacity to experience hypnosis. Any adult seeking positive change can benefit, especially if they exhibit some of these traits:

  • Strong imaginations and creativity

  • Ability to focus and concentrate intently

  • Openness to new experiences and ideas

  • Tendency to become fully absorbed in activities

  • Willingness to relax and trust the therapist

  • Positive motivation and expectation

Even those with lower natural susceptibility can enhance responsiveness by cultivating receptive mindsets and working with a skilled hypnotherapist trained in maximizing hypnotic potential.

While hypnosis remains misunderstood by mainstream culture, its legitimacy as a clinical tool continues growing. Through a blend of art and science, the leading practitioners provide clients an avenue to access deep subconscious layers of the psyche to instigate transformation. For the right subjects under the right conditions, few processes unlock human potential and healing like hypnosis. The mystique lives on, but for good reason.

Key Takeaways: Best Candidates for Hypnosis


Strong imagination

Good candidates have vivid imaginative capacity to visualize hypnotic suggestions.

Concentration ability

Ideal subjects can deeply focus attention without distractions interfering.

Openness to new experiences

Receptive individuals are curious and comfortable exploring an altered hypnotic state.

Willingness to relax

The best subjects temporarily let go of control and critical thinking to follow the hypnotist’s guidance.

Trusting, cooperative attitude

Maximum responsiveness springs from believing in the process and hypnotist.

Emotional openness

Excellent candidates express emotions freely during hypnotic states for deeper impact.

Curiosity about hypnosis

An interest and enthusiasm for exploring hypnosis often enhances hypnotizability.

Build trust and rapport

A strong practitioner connection promotes cooperation crucial for entering trance states.

Explain process clearly

Demystifying how hypnosis works relieves fears and false assumptions.

Customize induction method

Tailoring the hypnotic induction approach to the individual’s needs and personality.

Motivate with intrinsic goals

Linking hypnosis to meaningful personal goals and values boosts commitment.

Create a relaxed setting

Eliminating external distractions helps clients relax into hypnotic states.

Assess susceptibility

Tests help determine an individual's natural level of hypnotic responsiveness.

Suggested: Hypnosis Recordings

hypnosis recordings

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